3 simple ways to tell an employee you were wrong

Managers put a lot of effort into providing constructive criticism for their employees. They work to individualize feedback and make it really valuable to a given person, even those who are infamous for not taking suggestions in stride.

But conversations about room for improvement aren’t always centered on the employee. Sometimes you, the manager, are the person who screwed up.

 

Everyone makes mistakes, but being in a leadership role often seems to add a layer of confusion. Maybe your inclination is to downplay or even hide what you did, because you’re worried that admitting an error will make you look unqualified. To the contrary, covering it up could lead your employees to be in the one-third of respondents surveyed by the American Psychological Association who said, “My employer is not always honest and truthful.”

These sentiments are the enemy of open communication and can harm your workplace relationships. With that in mind, here’s how to communicate your error:

1. Own up to your mistake

“Do as I say, not as I do,” is rarely an effective leadership technique. If you brush off (or ignore) what you did wrong, what might your employee do the next time he’s in a tight spot?

model the behavior you expect.

model the behavior you expect. Go out of your way to communicate your mistake the same way you’d like an employee to if she made a similar error. Would you want her to speak to you one-on-one; to send an email; to have game-plan of what she’d do differently in the future?

For example, let’s say you learn from exit interviews that you weren’t providing adequate feedback. Scheduling regular meetings moving forward is an important fix, but it might seem a bit out of left field (leaving your employees to wonder if it will actually last).

In this instance, schedule one-on-one discussions. Lead with: “I realize I haven’t been sharing feedback with you outside of your annual review. I know that makes it harder for you to do your job — and it’s my job to help you, not keep what I see as areas for growth or praise to myself until January. It’s a mistake I’d like to rectify by scheduling times for us to discuss progress more regularly.” Then ask what is (and isn’t) working from their perspective.

2. Include an apology if necessary

Many mistakes don’t require an ongoing change to schedules, but they do require an apology. Say you didn’t sleep a wink last night, and when your employee came to you with an idea this morning you shut it down without really listening. Or you never got back to her on something, so she took initiative and made a decision and you scolded her for it.

Step beyond the admission that you wish you’d handled things differently and include the words, “I’m sorry.” It doesn’t indicate a lack of strength: It demonstrates willingness to apologize for bad behavior.

Bonus: Encouraging people to apologize when they’re wrong will not only benefit your relationship with employees, but also their relationships with the customer base. According to a study quoted in this American Express Open Forum post, “more than twice the number of unhappy customers are willing to forgive a company that issues an apology over one who offers them a monetary compensation.”

3. Find the balance

There are all levels of mistakes at work — from accidentally sending an email before you were finished to unintentionally sending one to the wrong person. This is an important point, because in the spirit of being authentic, you don’t want to go too far and apologize to your employees for every minor error you make. At best, you’ll be seen as annoying and overdoing it, and at worst, you could be seen as incompetent.

So if you forgot to cc an employee on an email about a project he’s been working on, a simple “Whoops, I forgot to cc you, looping you in now,” will do the trick. Forget (or fail) to give credit to someone for his great work in a team meeting? That merits an apology.

find out more from: http://mashable.com/2015/10/22/tell-employee-you-wrong/#MKzEx.06h5qC